Business Casual?

What is business casual these days? Last week I spoke at a conference in San Francisco. The dress code was business casual and I had to spend time on the Internet exploring what that really means these days. If you work for a company that does not dress up, what does that mean when you have to take it up a notch? Business casual does not exist for me. Every day is casual. So when you are in a situation where you might be interacting with customers, vendors, clients, or partners what is the true meaning of business casual?

From what I can tell it means no jeans. However, is that really true? With today’s tech world, are jeans still out of the realm of business casual? I barely had an outfit to wear to speak at the conference and I realized I went from working from home for so many years (and basically living in my pajamas and sweats) to my current company which is very laid back. Why should I add outfits to my closet that I will never wear? I know the origins of business casual are probably not much different then “casual Fridays” — a chance to dress down and be more relaxed. In my mind everyday is “casual” Friday. Yet, my terminology for business casual is not in the traditional sense. My version of business casual equates to: “Am I comfortable?”

Yes, I am not a traditional one. Going from my early career where I had to dress nice (and no, I no longer have any of those clothes) to spending almost a decade hoping that I had showered before Chris came home. I would roll out of bed and immediately go to my laptop instead of acting like a normal human and actually getting dressed. Why should I have when I saw practically no one all day? When you spend most of your day as the voice in a grey conference room speakerphone in the middle of a long table 3,000 miles away from your house to now, where I have a lot of work outfit options. I can be comfy and I can dress nice, so what is the 2015 version of business casual? Has it changed too much? Have we evolved and become a more laid back society? Or do lawyers and Wall Street exec’s still dictate the definition of business casual?

So I ask you, what does it mean to you?

Human Microcosm: Jury Duty

I spent yesterday in Jury Duty. It is such an interesting human experiment to see the different types of individuals that live in your county. You witness a mixture of age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic ranges, not to mention differing degrees of education. Somehow I have been to jury duty at least four times in the last ten years, yet my husband has been once. How is that even possible? They told us yesterday that selection is completely random, and that you can only serve every two years. I feel like they summon me the day after my two-year mark renews.

(c) ConklinJury Duty fascinates me for a few reasons. First, I love to people watch, and am always curious how individuals are going to react in different situations. During college I debated about going to law school, and while that never happened, jury duty is my closest connection to a courtroom. Lastly, I believe that as Americans there are very few things we are asked to do as citizens, and jury duty is one of them. If I was ever in a trial by jury, I would want to know that I was having a fair trial, and so I feel that it is my responsibility to do the same if I was ever selected for a jury panel.

The verdict from my day at jury duty? After many hours of sitting, plus a horrible video about the judicial system in my county, I was selected as the third individual on a panel for a criminal theft case. I was sitting front row, center. Each lawyer asked us quite a few questions, and based on the answers it showed clearly that many of us had a vague understanding of law, probable cause, etc. In the end, I was the third juror to be allowed to go home. We never find out why we are not selected, but my assumption is that my passionate answer to one of their questions threw me out of the running. Many times people try to get out of jury duty, but due to my increased curiosity that was not my intent.

The jury room coordinator was right when she told us that you start the day with the extreme desire to leave and go about your life, but that once you are in a courtroom that desire vanishes and you find that you want to know more. It was bittersweet for me. It was nice to know I would not have to stay late into the evening (they warned us this case would either go late, or resume again today), but once you are engaged in the process there is a craving to know more. In the end, I can only hope they found the right jurors for the case.

I am free of my civic duty for another two years, so if my streak continues I will be back at the courthouse on April 13, 2015.

Do you have any jury duty experiences to share?